One of the most pleasing aspects of football is seeing a player, any player, score a perfect hat-trick – that is one goal with the right foot, one with the left, and a third with the head. But, in a league like the PSL where hat-tricks are in short supply, you would expect any type of hat-trick to be impressive. Right? Even a hat-trick of penalties? No.
Many have not been impressed by this feat, going further even to mock it. Are they ignoring the psychological difficulty of the task of facing the same keeper in the same game from a spot kick three times? Or is it the easiest hat-trick a player can ask for? Whether or not you think a hat-trick of penalties is impressive, it actually happened.
1 – Against Stellenbosch in October, Caleb Bimenyimana became the first player in PSL’s top-flight history to score a hat-trick of penalties in a league game.
If that hat-trick was a precursor to anything that would follow, one would imagine it would be either Kaizer Chiefs getting a lot of penalties and/or players scoring a lot of them this season. Alas, only one of these would be true (we’ll get into the other later). Chiefs led the way for penalties received this season, with 10, double that of the next team (Stellenbosch and Golden Arrows with five).
We’ve often been asked if 10 penalties is a record for a team in a PSL season, but our database does not have records of all penalties given (and missed). However, we have a record of penalties scored by Chiefs players in a league season.
7 – Chiefs scored seven penalties in the league this season, more than any other PSL season before (6 in 2015/16).
Don’t tell that to Eric Tinkler though, who sits alone at the other end of the happiness spectrum – his side was the only one this season not to receive a spot-kick. On the individual level, Bimenyimana takes the Golden Penalty Boot, with a total of four in the season (only Willard Katsande – 4 in 2015/16) has ever scored this many penalties for Chiefs in a league campaign. Like Eric Tinkler, Bradley Grobler & Junior Mendieta will also want to avoid the topic shortly, but for different reasons. Unlike Tinkler, these players did get a chance from the spot (4 times for the Argentine & thrice for the 100-goal man). But they were profligate.
3 – Grobler & Mendieta missed both three penalties this season, the most of all players.
At least Mendieta has the consolation of scoring one, but he still wasted a chance (or three) to become the top goal contributor in the league (Saleng tops the league for goal contributions with 19, Mendieta was second on 17 – could have been 20 if he scored the three penalties). Grobler, meanwhile, missed the chance to reach 104 goals with those three missteps. Furthermore, given the low nature of the Golden Boot quorum this season (12 was enough to win). With 10 goals to his name, he will probably kick himself for that. Hopefully, he doesn’t miss.
Yet, all in all, it was a disappointing season in front of goal for all teams. Not only were there 25 fewer penalties awarded this season compared to last (79-54), but the rate of scoring them also dipped. Of the 54 spot kicks given, only 34 were scored, a 63% strike rate unheard of in professional football. The global average is in the 75 – 80% range. Yet, credit must be given to the showstoppers too, who saved (or successfully distracted the opponents) on 20 occasions.
4 – Veli Mothwa saw four penalties missed against him this season, more than any other keeper.